Having previously reviewed a few underwater MP3 solutions it was clear to me what I expected from the Finis SwiMP3. While other incarnations of submersible MP3 players had issues with water always getting in your ears disrupting the flow of sound, the SwiMP3 player had to eliminate that in order to be a plausible contender.
Immediately upon “unboxing”, it was apparent that the SwiMP3 player was exactly that. Tailored to swimmers, the only way to adorn the product was to attach them to a pair of goggles. The clips on each earpiece are designed to loosely fit around any pair of goggles and were a bit weird to try and situate them correctly without a mirror.
Once I aligned the earpieces to an optimal place on my head I did some laps. The first thing I noticed was the “bone conduction” aspect. While sounding more fancy than it needs to, it basically just means that there are no actual “traditional” earphones that you plug into you ears. The sound vibrates through the plastic casing, eliminating the water suction problem in past underwater MP3 products.
Does this work? It totally does, but at the immediate sacrifice of the most imperative aspect inherent in a pair of earphones. The sound. The main blemish is the quality. It sounds very shallow and distant sounding (puns all day) and that you are hearing it from “3 doors down”.
I can say right now that the biggest problem with the Finis SwiMP3 is the volume fluctuations that must be suffered. The thing is, swimming in water has its own sounds and you must jack up the volume in order to hear the music. The bad part comes to when you are at rest and taking a break from swimming. Not only does the music sound shrill, but it’s also searingly loud. I’m not sure if this could be avoided by a volume toggle button but it’s very harsh to say the least.
As far as controls go, I say don’t futz with them. At a storage capacity of 256Mbs, I would just make a playlist and swim and try to enjoy the novelty of listening to music underwater. The swimmer I spoke to at the gym expressed that if the SwiMP3 was priced at under $100 it would be much more appealing, and it would definitely help break up the drudgery of doing laps in the pool.
My take on the product: I’d want it to be more versatile and offer a design that allowed you to use the headphones without a pair of goggles. Bad sounding music is far better than no music at all and I feel that other sports could benefit from this “bone conduction” technology if you will, as it works far better than similar products in its genre. The quality of construction could be a bit more heavy duty and it could sure have more memory, up to at least quadruple it’s current size.
Beyond that, the Finis SwiMP3 is an interesting product that should garner the attention of swimmers all over looking to cut up the monotony of doing laps. While not a stellar underwater MP3 solution at this moment, Finis could make some important strides to improving the SwiMP3 so it is more appealing to its niche’ market.
Note: For the life of me (from the Verve Pipe’s The Freshman), I could not get my original iMac G5 to recognize the SwiMP3. Beware as I could also not get it to mount as a disk image on my buddy’s newer Powerbook.
- Allows for underwater music sans suction problems of similar products
- Easy to use
- Mildly comfortable
- Volume issues
- Memory too small
Buy it for $135 here!